Which round should I apply to?

Guest post by Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Planning your business school application schedule requires that you understand when your deadlines are. MBA programs will normally announce their deadlines during the summer. While every MBA program is different, the majority of business schools will have a number of deadlines, known as “rounds.” Frequently the first of these deadlines, round 1, will occur in the Fall, the second deadline, round 2, in the Winter, and the third deadline, round 3, in the Spring. For each round there is an admissions cycle and individuals are notified whether they have been accepted. Certain MBA programs have more than 3 rounds and there are many variations on dates. When faced with all of these options, candidates often ask: “which round is the best round to apply to?”

For the majority of applicants, submitting all of your applications in round 1 will be difficult. You may wonder, if everyone needs to submit their applications in round 1, who is being admitted in round 2? The answer is that a lot of individuals are admitted in round 2. If your application is not ready, you should not be worried to apply to round 2.

If possible, applying to round 1 may be a smarter strategy. At the beginning of round 1, all of the seats in an upcoming MBA class are available. At the beginning of round 2, a number of those seats have been given away, and you are also competing with those on the waitlist. However, some individuals say that all of the top candidates are applying in round 1 and you are up against the toughest competition.

In reality, admissions committees understand what they are looking for. They have become very good at forecasting incoming students and accepting applicants that fit what they are looking for. The best strategy is not to play the game of which round, but to submit your application as soon as, but not until, it is ready.

A few months ago I spoke with a client who believes that she can raise her GMAT score from 630 to 690, but it will mean waiting until round 2 to submit applications. I recommended that she go for the 690 in round 2. You should always make sure that all aspects of your application are the strongest they can be, and then submit your application. You should never sacrifice quality just to get into round 1.

Applying in the final round for an MBA program is normally a bad strategy. For many business schools, this is the time they are focused on completing their class and picking very specific profiles. In addition, if you submit an application and are not admitted, you do not have much time to improve your candidacy before reapplying to the MBA program in the upcoming year.

For many individuals it is difficult to submit all business school applications within one round. A better strategy may be to stagger rounds. You should choose a few MBA programs to apply to in the first round and a few more for a later round. Once you have decided on the rounds that you are going to target, you can begin to schedule your timeline. As with all of the MBA applications process, you need to be flexible. If you find that you are facing a deadline and the application is not ready, you can always submit later.


For more robust guidance on your MBA application essays, check out the Stacy Blackman Consulting Essay Guide Series – school specific guides with essay tips, sample essays, information on what your target schools value and more. Visithttp://www.stacyblackman.com/essay-guides/ to learn more.

Founded in 2001, Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped thousands of MBA applicants gain admission to the most selective business schools in the world.  The Stacy Blackman team, comprised of MBA graduates, former admissions officers and expert writers, editors and marketers, helps clients develop and implement a winning marketing strategy.  Stacy Blackman clients have a significantly increased probability of admission to top schools and are frequent recipients of merit scholarships.  The company is regularly featured in publications such as BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist.   Visit the Stacy Blackman blog for daily news updates and admissions tips, and check out the company’s e-publications for more in depth school-by-school guidance.

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This entry was posted in Admissions, Application Deadlines, Business School, Guest Blogs, Tips & Hints and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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